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Basketball - 10. March 2008.

ESP - Perez counts on `winning character’ to carry Spain’s women in Madrid

The Spanish, runners-up to Russia last summer at the EuroBasket Women in Spain, have the advantage of playing the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Madrid where five places are up for grabs for the Olympics.

Perez said: "The fact that we were EuroBasket runners-up does not guarantee us a place at the Olympic Games.

"We must play the Pre-Olympic tournament and our aim is to clinch a spot in Beijing.

"I have the duty to do everything possible and impossible to achieve that but it will not be that easy as many believe it to be."

There will be a lot of pressure on all of the teams in Madrid because making it to an Olympic Games is the dream of every player.

"The Pre-Olympic tournament has certain peculiar characteristics because it's a shorter tournament and in two games you play for all or nothing, especially in the quarter-final tie where we could face the likes of Cuba or Belarus and that game gives you either glory or hell,” Perez said.

"Neither of those two teams, Cuba or Belarus, are easy, nor are they extremely tough but they are both competitive sides.

"Although I know we are capable of beating them, I also know they can beat us. We will have to do things well in order to achieve our aims."

"We have our options but I know we cannot rest easy, we must arrive to the tournament 100% to be competitive and face our rivals."

Spain’s players will have a point to prove as none of them have reached the EuroLeague Women Final Four.

Amaya Valdemoro, the EuroBasket Women 2007 MVP, went out in the quarter-final stage with CSKA Moscow as did Ros Casares trio Elisa Aguilar, Laia Palau and Marina Ferragut, while Halcon Avenida’s Anna Montanana and Isa Sanchez bowed in the eighth finals.

Perez expects his players to show their true worth in Madrid.

"We have nothing to envy other teams,” he said. "My team has the most powerful weapon which is a winning and competitive character and a heart and personality on the court. That is without a doubt."


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